Who’s the Real Enemy?

“You’re either with us or against us.” — Benito Mussolini

First the UCP demanded the Premier ignore the rules of the House, then they accused her of being against rural Albertans and siding with the criminals because she refused to ignore the rules of the House.

Do these guys even know the rules of the House?

Or are they so desperate to win brownie points with their supporters that they’ll incinerate any rules that stand in their way.  I’m guessing the latter but with the UCP you can never be too sure.

The set up

It was pure UCP stagecraft.

  • The UCP trundled in 100 rural Albertans to sit in the Legislature and witness the heartless government refuse to stand up for rural Albertans besieged by rising rural crime.
  • The UCP abused the rules governing Question Period and the rules governing emergency debates by asking the Premier to support the UCP’s motion for an emergency debate on rural crime before the motion for an emergency debate had been ruled upon by the Speaker.
  • When the Premier refused to go along with this stunt, they condemned her in true Trumpian fashion as being against rural Albertans and siding with the criminals.
image37-e1464276972427

You’re with the UCP or you’re with the criminals

Emergency Debate

After the first round of stagecraft ended, the UCP set up its motion for an emergency debate on a matter of “urgent public importance” namely:  the increase in property-related and violent crimes in rural communities and the residents’ fear for their safety was sufficient to support a state of emergency.

Parliamentary rules allow the House to set aside regular business and have an emergency debate if the motion satisfies the “urgency test”.

The UCP argued the motion should pass because crime rates had risen sharply in some areas and rural Albertans felt unsafe.

The Government said the motion should fail because it did not meet the definition of urgency and could be addressed by other legislative means.

The Government relied on precedents.  Speaker Zwozdesky granted an emergency debate on medevac services because they were going to be relocated the very next day.  Speaker Kowalski denied an emergency debate about Premier Redford’s choice of lawyers in the tobacco litigation because the issue could be raised by other ways (eg private members’ bills, private members’ motions, and well-crafted questions in Question Period).

The Speaker denied the motion, saying Albertans’ safety and feelings of safety were of utmost importance and crime statistics were rising, but the UCP failed to meet the definition of “urgency” set out in the rules.

The UCP flew into high dudgeon.

Knowing the UCP this is understandable.  Why would they rely on private members’ bills, motions, and questions in Question Period when they can use the Legislature as a platform on which to grandstand?

But leaving aside grandstanding for the moment, what is the state of rural crime?

The UCP position

The UCP provided examples of Albertans victimized in their homes and businesses.  They set out statistics showing crime on the rise in some areas including Red Deer which ranks #5 in a Macleans survey of the most dangerous places to live in Canada.

The UCP said the Government is soft on crime.  They argued:

  • There is insufficient RCMP coverage
  • The RCMP are poorly paid, morale is low
  • There aren’t enough prosecutors and judges
  • The Government failed to promote minimum sentencing
  • Protection for rural areas should be the same as for urban areas

It would appear there is a problem with rising rural crime.  What’s not clear is the UCP’s contention that the Government failed to address it.

The Government’s position  

The Government outlined what it’s doing to combat rural crime:

  • Funding the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team after its funding was cut by Jason Kenney when he was in Harper’s cabinet (ALERT is effective, it recently laid 120 charges against 11 individuals for drug trafficking)
  • Providing $500 million for policing and paying 70% of the RCMP’s costs
  • Hiring an additional 50 prosecutors and court staff and building a new court house in Red Deer
  • Pressing the federal government to appoint more judges after Harper’s government left Alberta with the lowest number of superior court judges per capita in Canada
  • Targeting online sexual exploitation of children
  • Creating an integrated crime reduction unit to target property crime in rural Alberta

The Government also noted that some of the UCP’s complaints (RCMP coverage, minimum sentencing, appointment of judges) fell under federal, not provincial jurisdiction.

They asked the UCP to explain how it would decrease rural crime given Jason Kenney’s promise to cut the budget by 20%; this would damage the criminal justice system, not enhance it.      

The real enemy

The UCP proposed no solutions to address rural crime.  Instead they engaged in theatrics to paint the NDP Government as the enemy and themselves as the savior of rural Albertans.

But answer me this, who’s the real the enemy of rural Albertans, the Government who’s providing sustainable funding for the criminal justice system or the UCP who promise to reduce it by 20%?

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27 Responses to Who’s the Real Enemy?

  1. jerrymacgp says:

    Further north, Grande Prairie was recently named “Canada’s most dangerous city” by Maclean’s… we had the highest overall crime rate in Canada. But no more. Now rates are down (http://www.dailyheraldtribune.com/2017/11/30/falling-crime-thanks-to-increase-in-mounties-councillor) and Grande Prairie has dropped to 12th. While increased policing and efficiencies in the administration of the city’s RCMP detachment are partly responsible, some of the City’s quality of life strategies are also a factor.

    Crime and justice are far more complex issues than these simplistic theatrics would suggest.

    • Well said Jerry. The UCP’s strategy for winning the next election seems to be “pick an issue and boil it down to a meme”. They flooded social media with videos of Kenney attacking the NDP and mock-ups of newspapers with fake headlines saying the NDP abandoned rural Albertans to the criminals. This preempts any effort to have a reasonable, evidence based discussion about the cause of the spike in crime and what can be done to address it. Your link said in addition to increasing the number of officers on the street, GP worked harder to create a more inclusive city which built bridges with immigrant communities.

  2. Judy Johnson says:

    Another good post Susan. Is the UCP trying to ratchet up fear of crime so it can make the case for relaxing gun laws? I suspect they yearn for a return to the Wild West’s rugged individualism. What next!

    • Judy, I wondered the same thing. When the UCP MLAs introduced all 100 of their supporters in the Legislature they related a number of anecdotal stories about crimes that had been committed. I’m not saying rural crime isn’t an issue but anecdotal evidence just scares people, it doesn’t prove anything. I’ve been “victimized” (to use the UCP word) three times since I’ve lived in Calgary: my house was burgled, my garage was burgled and my car was broken into. But my story isn’t as persuasive as the evidence presented to Calgary City Council which said we’ve had nearly a 50% increase in shootings since last year, 68 fentanyl death between June and Sept and Calgary leads the nation in the highest number of stolen vehicles. Council responded by raising our taxes by 3.8%…that amounts to less than 20 cents a day. I think it’s a small price to pay for increased safety and security, I don’t know whether the UCP would agree.

  3. jillbrowne says:

    I’m glad you pointed out the misleading rhetoric. No one wants crime anywhere in Alberta except the criminals. Following proper procedure means one thing: the government is following proper procedure. Period.
    Thanks for another great blog post, Susan.

    • You’re welcome Jill. The UCP really hammered the point that Notley was siding with the criminals by hiding “behind ridiculous procedural arguments”. When the Speaker said they had to withdraw the statement and apologize for their inflammatory accusation, Mr Nixon said “I withdraw and apologize for pointing out that the government is standing with criminals against my constituents.” This was not an apology. He should have been ejected. The UCP’s lack of respect for parliamentary procedure reminds me of Trump’s ongoing attack of the US institutions of democracy. We can’t let it happen here.

  4. It’s interesting that I can go anywhere in the industrialized world and if you tell me someone is a conservative or a liberal I can do a pretty fair job of predicting their political opinions no matter the culture they are supposedly conservative or liberal about.

    • Paul you make a very interesting point which is supported by people like social scientist Jonathan Haidt who said we all hold political stereotypes and more often than not they’re accurate. He says liberals are more open to experience than conservatives. Open individuals are drawn to liberal, progressive, left-wing political views, closed individuals prefer conservative, traditional, right-wing views. He says we’ll never solve the problems of the world by sitting in our respective corners and yelling at each other and suggests we take a page from the Asian religions which follow the concept of yin and yang because both are necessary if we hope to understand what’s really going on around us.
      Sadly, being inundated by UCP propaganda is not helpful in this exercise.

      • My opinion about sexual identity is very Taoist, with some masculine traits within every woman and some feminine traits within every man, including who they are attracted to. Social identities are one thing used for public discussions, but in my own life a person is just a person.

  5. J.E. Molnar says:

    The UCP is now engaged in a merciless misinformation campaign fraught with demagoguery, dog-whistle and smear initiatives. No surprises here Susan.

    That type of campaigning was the cornerstone of Stephen Harper’s political operation during the 2015 federal election and has become the benchmark to which the UCP intends to aspire heading into and culminating in the election of 2019 — with thanks to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Jason Kenney.

  6. You nailed it J.E.
    Kenney has positioned himself as the savior of conservatism provincially and federally so I expect he’ll do exactly as you’ve predicted. We’ll have to work hard to ensure he doesn’t inflict as much damage on Albertans as Trump has inflicted on Americans. I’m holding on to the hope that we’re not as polarized as the Americans but Kenney’s divisive tactics and his unbridled ambition could tear us to shreds over the next two years. It’s going to be brutal.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Interesting comments. The UCP is going to use the strategy that the right wing parties have been using for a while and which proves quite successful – lies and propaganda. Just wait until the attacks start on Rachel Notley.
      I do not agree that Canadians are not as polarized. I think we are just more polite, but this Liberal government just like all the ones before has pushed discontent a little further. Hypocrisy continues to grow. We need more pressure. You just have to watch a black Friday in the US and in Canada to understand what I mean. That same politeness is dangerous though because if it ever explodes I think it will be quite damaging for the whole political system. I talk to people everyday and people are very polarized and very unhappy with what is going on. Furthermore people are not so multicultural as politicians paint it. 99% of people I talk to – Progressives or Conservative do not approve of the levels of immigration that we are accepting every year. Back when around 100 thousand people came in it was easier to get people adjusted to our day to day living and not as disruptive as it is right now. Politicians are just following economic interests and orders from their paying bosses and are bringing as many people as possible to pay for social programs and lower wages. This is now affecting clearly people of lower income levels who have to directly compete with desperate people that come in many cases as refugees. Even certain professional jobs are now being affected directly or indirectly with companies bringing workers under different excuses or outsourcing jobs to other countries. Interestingly enough the service fees never get lower, on the contrary.
      Life is changing indeed and just wait until Justin Trudeau signs the dotted line on a free trade agreement with China or the TPP. They are trying to get this so called Progressive Agenda in the talks but nobody is interested in protecting the workers interests other than the workers themselves. Justin Trudeau and his poor finance minister are there to serve the interests of those who pay his way into the elite world of golden toilets. It is to me shameful but soon will be to late. Just like countries in South America we are falling under the spell of the very rich Mafia. Once in there it will take an earthquake like energy to turn things around. In the US, I hope I am wrong, the latest tax law approval is just the final stab of that process. Corporations and their Gods will now get used to those levels of income and privilege and that law will not be changed for a long time to come. I think we can actually start counting the years.

      • GoinFawr says:

        “Justin Trudeau and his poor (sic) finance minister…”
        “poor”!!? As in “poor hearted”, or “woefully beset” ? Because when it comes to wealth those two are in a club so exclusive your name has to end in “eau” to be in it! (h/t to Mark Critch) Just kidding Carlos, I felt the sarcasm, and it was palpable.

        Great post, especially the point about the actual blue collar consensus regarding the living wage eviscerating neoliberal endgame of unmitigated immigration, and your reference to south american politics.
        For anyone interested in expanding on the things Carlos brought up I would recommend Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein’s film “The Take”, which, in outlining the reasons workers appropriated abandoned factories, indirectly serves up a whole lot of cognates to what currently ails the Canadian political landscape (and many others, for that matter), even though it is about Argentina’s.

        Susan, you know that in my opinion the “real enemy” is allowing international usury to control your politicians

      • GoinFawr: thanks for the book suggestion. I haven’t read “The Take” but it sounds like a timely addition to my reading list.

        On a semi-related point, I heard David Frum speak at the U of C earlier this week. I went because I wanted to hear what a “moderate” conservative had to say about Trump and the Republicans who support him. He said the 1% are terrified that the 99% will take their riches away (duh) but what surprised me was his statement that Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton were pushing too hard to correct the imbalance between the “haves” and the “have nots” and if the left continued to push so hard it would end badly for the 99%. His called for “moderation” (whatever that means). His comment reminded me of the language used by the establishment to placate whatever group was fighting for greater equity, be it blacks fighting for civil rights, women fighting for equal pay…all these groups have been patient and progress has been very very slow.

        Interesting times.

      • Carlos, you make a lot of good points here. Let me address the one relating to immigration. Historically Canada has accepted more immigrants as a percentage of its population than it does now. In 1912 the population was 7.4 million and we took in 400,000 immigrants (roughly 5% of the population). In 1957 the population was 16.6 million and we accepted 282,000 immigrants (roughly 1.7% of the population). Last year our population was 35 million and we accepted around 300,000 (less than one percent of the population). Trudeau plans to add 300,000 immigrants in 2017 climbing to 340,000 immigrants by 2020. This is still a very low percentage of our population, but the BIG difference now is that since the 1970s most of the immigrants coming to Canada are visible minorities. I hate to say it but I think this is one reason why Canadians are more fussed about immigration than they used to be.
        http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/immigration-canada-2018-1.4371146
        To sum up: I agree with your comments on greed and think we also have to ask ourselves whether Canadians (who I agree are more polite than Americans) are just as bad when it comes to discrimination.

  7. Carlos Beca says:

    GoinFawr I am glad it was palpable because that is the way I feel more and more with a political class that refuses the opportunities to make this nation greater due to greed and selfishness. Even here where people have a chance to make it better for everyone, these people continue to push the envelope and continue to undue what took decades to create. This neo-liberal road to nowhere is now cast in stone.
    The Take is quite good and Argentina is a great example of all our current maladies and the ones to come if we continue getting the beer and watch a good hockey game after work and do not even bother with elections.
    South America has been the rich world lab for decades and that is where Milton Friedman’s market garbage has been tried to exhaustion. In the last decade there was some left wing resurgence but we all know where that went. These countries are now rooted so deeply into the Mafias of warlords and the super rich that they no longer have a choice until a Che Guevara is born out of misery and annihilates them. Then we all know the story. They become the new dictators and cycle begins again this time under pseudo communist ideologies. We just witnessed the end of level one in Zimbabwe. Mugabe was a freedom fighter to liberate at the time Rhodesians from the awful hands of the racist white government of Ian Smith. Right from day one he became the worst enemy of any tribe in Rhodesia now Zimbabwe that was not his kind. Then he proceeded to make one of the richest nations in Africa to become the garbage can of Southern Africa. God forbid you say this anywhere because the guy is black and has the right to do whatever to his people. The problem was not racism, the real problem was greed. Zimbabweans could have resolved and turn around the white government racist policies inherited by the way from clean Britain, and Zimbabwe would have now become a wonderful place to live for blacks and whites. The problem was that Russia and China behind Mugabe had different ideas and he did not mind them. People had a hard time believing the freedom fighter was anything but good for them. He di, he made his daughter the richest black woman in the world. The replacement just opened a new bank account in the Bahamas and the West cannot wait to help. The free world will now shut up again and allow economic interests to continue the stealing until there is nothing left.
    Anyway I stop before I run out of breath.
    I, as opposed to Susan who I truly respect, do not believe there is a solution fro the horrible condition we are in but while I am here I love to discuss the possible way out. I mean the real way out.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      By the way GoinFawr your last sentence is precious 🙂
      I forgot to mention it and I have to because you always discuss whatever we are talking about in a way that I appreciate and of course the humour is wonderful.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my posts.

  8. Carlos Beca says:

    GoinFawr – here is a sentence of our prime minister

    Pursuing Trade With China Part Of Mission To Fight Populism: Trudeau

    Isn’t that an amazing sentence?

    I wished some of Justin Trudeau’s consultants would tell him that he does not need trade to fight populism. He needs to stop lying to Canadians and start doing what he promises instead of getting in as a Progressive and then continue the uranium enrichment of his friends pockets. Come on Justin, the Agha Khan and the types have enough for generations to come without even leaving the house or working.
    Justin, just like most politicians and I gather the media just refuse to see what this so called populism is about. EASY – it is about lies, greed and lack of real democracy. Every single one of them easy to resolve – STOP IT grow up and for a change love your country and the its people. Not the ‘people’ in your empty sentences but the real persons that everyday sacrifice way more than you to make Canada one of the prides of this decadent planet.
    Justin you will be a great Canadian if at least you stop lying. Canada will be much better for it, All we need is for you to allow democracy to work for a change.
    Is that asking for a lot? We do not need you to go to China or Europe or the US. You can stay home and take care of your kids. We just need you to empower us and renew our democratic system and then get out of the way and take with you all your parasites.
    Thank you Justin from a Canadian that wants to be proud again.

    • Carlos, it sounds like Trudeau’s attempt to start negotiations with China fell flat, and for good reason. While I’m pleased Trudeau didn’t allow himself to be pressured into starting negotiations when Canada and China can’t agree on fundamental issues like human rights; a lot more needs to be sorted out before we come back to the bargaining table (assuming we return). You’ve outlined many things that need to be accomplished back home in Canada starting with the first big promise Trudeau broke–a shift to proportional representation.

  9. Carlos Beca says:

    Susan I am sure your numbers on immigration are correct but I disagree with your minority suggestion. You are right that immigrants are more visible today, but the real reasons are always those that cannot be discussed. Back in 1917 there was no political correctness. They were not visible but they were labeled and made to feel inferior.
    Today it is a completely different world and what I hear and discuss with friends are the real causes of discomfort. I can give an example. Forgive me if this is not politically correct but I do not discuss any issue unless it is in a respectful but completely open way.
    Political correctness in Canada has reached hysterical proportions. Somehow people talk and behave as if we live in this cocoon where no one is allowed to cross a line other than those that actually draw the line. It is somehow offensive and racist.
    Right now for example, people in Canada have their festivals of Light (East Indian Culture), they celebrate Ramadan and are allowed to pray in areas where they have some privacy (Muslims) , We celebrate Chinese New Year, but God forbid we can call our Christmas Lunch other than the various ridiculous names like ‘Season Get Together’, ‘Holiday Pot Luck’ and on an on. It somehow offends those that do not share our values. I personally do not care much about any of these celebrations but it bothers me that people now are pressured not to call what it is. It is a ‘Christmas Party’. No one is forced to go and no one has to bow to it. Why this stupidity is what is different today. Somehow especially Progressives (not me included) think that they have the truth and that is that we have to forget our cultural background because they seem to be offensive. No one on this planet can throw the first stone and we are all equal but we are all proud of our ancestors regardless of what unfortunately was done in their names in some occasions. Somehow we created this idea that we are so horrible that we now have to scale down our realities and be ashamed in the presence of immigrants.
    There are more examples of course but I will leave it here because I know that by now I am going to get hate mail. Does not bother me so do not waste your time. I am a war survivor, I am too beaten to be taken lower. It does not work.
    The difference Susan is that a lot of Canadians are starting to be made to feel that they are losing their home to the benefit of others that in many ways are empowered to think that they do have that right. I am an immigrant myself and I know exactly what is going on and my theory has always been and it will always be that you respect those that invite you into their homes and their hearts. You offer who you are and what makes you as a person but you do not have the right to spoil the soul that created the conditions that allowed you to come in and participate. I know that there are many theories on this including that we all have the right to the planet but the fact of the matter is that we cannot just dismantle an organized system and culture to accommodate our wants or so called libertarian ideas.
    Canadians are weary of what is going on and they have reasons to be. Like Goinfawr mentioned in his last post the enemy is allowing international usury to control us. I extend that to international politics and sociopathic behaviour. Canadians are too polite and generous and the International community is taking full advantage of it. We may think that we are strong enough to survive it but I personally doubt it. I am not talking about closing doors or any of that stuff but it is the responsibility of the Canadian government to make sure that we stand strong. Every time Justin Trudeau is abroad he talks as if Canada owes apologies to half the Universe. The world laughs of his naiveté. Nowhere is there a nation that does not have to apologize, so do it at home and move forward by doing the right thing rather than just spit out beautiful words and tears. Fix the darn water problem in the reserves of our first Nations. Get these people to share fully in our Health Care system and education. Just use your brain rather than some ideology that sounds pure and smells good. We need a great deal more reality in our day to day.

    • Carlos, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.
      I’m not concerned about schools putting on a Holiday Play instead of a Christmas Play because these plays are put on in Dec by elementary schools and participation in the play is mandatory. Junior and senior high schools don’t have Holiday Plays, they wait until the end of the year to showcase a production by the drama class, participation in the class and hence the play is voluntary.
      Given that public schools want to keep religion out of the curriculum it makes sense that a mandatory play be non-secular in nature.
      Note: all this is based on my experience in the Calgary public school system a few decades ago.
      With respect to the office Christmas party, I’ve worked for three large energy companies and while people complained about the food, the cost of the booze, the venue, the people they got stuck sitting with and the music, I can’t recall anyone complaining that the event was called a Holiday party instead of a Christmas party.
      I do agree with your point that in the past immigrants who were visible minorities, or for that matter from the United Kingdom and Europe, were discriminated against, now we’ve passed laws making such discrimination illegal. It shows we’re maturing as a society.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        I am not surprised we disagree that is part of discussion.
        If I may, I suggest that complaining about food, venue is not the same as about a cultural issue like the one we are discussing. People would not just casually say anything about it. I guess people are more inclined to share that with me than with you.
        Also I want to clarify that I did not include schools in my comment. I was talking in the working environment.
        In any event this is not an issue for me anymore because we no longer have Christmas parties.
        Maybe in the near future all of this will come out at the same time. Jason Kenney is just around the corner so the game will change soon.
        Remember what you wrote just above

        ‘We have to ask ourselves whether Canadians (who I agree are more polite than Americans) are just as bad when it comes to discrimination.’

  10. Carlos Beca says:

    This is just one of the many and then we ask why our incomes have been stagnant for years

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/12/06/canadian-banks-accused-of-gouging-after-clocking-42-billion-in-profit_a_23299071/?utm_hp_ref=ca-homepage

    No one dares to touch them. OH NO
    A society on the TAKE
    By the way Susan ‘The Take’ is a documentary. Pretty good.

    • Carlos, I saw this article too. Mind boggling. Fits right in with the US tax bill and the what most CEOs are saying about it–they won’t invest the savings resulting from a lower corporate tax in capital and creating more jobs; they’ll give it to their shareholders in the form of dividends and executives in the form of bonuses. No surprise there.

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